The Burma Human Rights Network has become aware of villages complaining of dire food shortages in the north of Burma's Rakhine State, following a widespread military campaign last year by the Burmese Army against the civilian population that resulted in over 600, 000 refugees fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh. Those who remained have had limited access to aid as restrictions on NGOs and charities remained in many areas following the fighting. While the Red Cross has been given access to some of these areas others remain in dire need of food and medical aid.
The intentional blocking of aid for civilians is part of what is known as the 'Four Cuts Strategy' which the Burmese armed forces are known for using in conflict. The strategy involves cutting off food, aid, information and recruitment. Typically this is carried out against the civilian population, starving them, torturing them, and devastating them to weaken public support for insurgency and denying them recruits and information.
Thailand – As an estimated 1 million remaining migrant workers in Thailand rush to verify their citizenship before a looming March 31 deadline, Burmese nationals of South Asian descent widely report subjection to extra scrutiny in order to prove their ties to their homeland.
The end of the month marks the date in which Thailand aims to have all of its nearly 4 million migrant workers registered. The process to do so accelerated in early February with the opening of 80 One Stop Service (OSS) Centres by the Ministry of Labour. Here, migrant workers must first obtain a Certificate of Identity (CI), or a confirmation of their nationality from immigration officials from their home country in this case, Burma before undergoing a health check and later applying for a work permit. Protocol requires that to obtain a CI, migrant workers must present officials with a letter of employment from their boss, proof of their residence in Thailand, and their temporary migrant worker identification card.
The Burma Human Rights Network has been informed by several Rohingya villagers who remained in Burma’s Northern Rakhine State of continued food shortages and unlivable conditions due to restrictions put in place by the government and security forces. Of those remaining, frequent complaints were made related to limited food rations, inability to access agricultural work, severe travel restrictions and fear of continuing attacks by vigilante groups from neighboring ethnic Rakhine communities.
Villagers from Gutar Pyin, in Buthidaung Township, have complained of food shortages and increased restrictions on movement since August of 2017 when security forces began their “clearance operations” in the area. After 200 homes were burnt down as part of the military’s campaign, only 1500 villagers are reported to remain. Those remaining lack adequate shelter and are dependent on monthly rations from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). One villager told BHRN, “In one house three families have to live together. We’ve requested permission from the authorities to rebuild the homes but we have not received it yet.”